Saint NamePaul, the Apostle : S00008
Antōninos, Zevinās and Germanos, martyrs in Palestine, ob. 309 : S00195
Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023
Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030
Paulos, martyr in Palestine, ob. 309 : S00164
Saint Name in SourceΠαῦλος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements
Inscriptions - Inscribed objects
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures
Inscriptions - Graffiti
Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before570
Evidence not after800
Activity not before570
Activity not after800
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcMadaba
Umm er-Rasas/Kastron Mefaa
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Madaba
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Umm er-Rasas/Kastron Mefaa
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
Other lay individuals/ people
Cult Activities - RelicsReliquary – institutionally owned
SourceThe church, usually referred to as the 'church of Saint Paul' (which is solely based on our Inscription 1, written on a roof tile) or Church 9, lies in the centre of the so-called 'ecclesiastical complex', to the south of the churches of *Stephen (E02131) and of bishop Sergios.
The church was a small three-aisled basilica (16.00 m x 7.00 m) with an inscribed apse flanked by two extensions of the aisles (rather than real chambers). A large chapel (7.00 m x 14.00 m) was annexed to the west section of the north wall, the so-called 'chapel of peacocks'.
The lid of a reliquary shaped as a small sarcophagus and broken into three conjoining fragments was found on the floor-mosaic of the south aisle. A large arched niche was constructed in the east wall of the extension of the south aisle, and a small niche was set in the extension of the north aisle. These were probably designed as reliquary sockets.
The whole church was paved with mosaics (showing trees, other floral and geometric motifs, and figural depictions) which were, however, damaged in a period of iconoclasm, and when the church was reused as a dwelling.
The church was excavated between 1995 and 1998 by Michele Piccirillo. The inscriptions were published by Piccirillo in 1997, further comments were offered by Denis Feissel in Bulletin épigraphique and by the editors of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum.
DiscussionThe roof tile bears an invocation of almost certainly two saints. Piccirillo stresses the quality of the execution of the inscription and the fact that its lettering resembles cursive script. The saints invoked are named 'Paul and Germanos'. As for Paul, Piccirillo suggests that he is Paul the Apostle, since his cult was popular in the region. He was venerated both alone (Riḥāb: E02053) and with Peter (Jerash: E02366). His image probably appears also on a ring found in the nearby 'church of the courtyard' in Umm er-Rasas (E02588). In addition, in our church one of the donors mentioned in floor-mosaic dedications bears the name Paulos. As for the word ΓΕΡΜΑΝΟΣ, Piccirillo hesitates whether this is an epithet of Paul (an otherwise unattested borrowing from Latin that would mean 'dear' as, he says, 'in the Roman liturgy that uses a hymn by Prudentius, Paul is called "germane Petri" ') or a personal name of another invoked saint, but since there are no parallels for the former option and the word ΓΕΡΜΑΝΟΣ is almost certainly precede by the abbreviated conjunction καί/'and', he rightly opts for one Saint Germanos. We suggest that this might be Germanos, one of the three martyrs in Palestine in 309 (Antoninos, Zevinas and Germanos), mentioned by Eusebius (see E00389).
In 2000 Leah Di Segni suggested that Paulos and Germanos were both martyrs of Caesarea Maritima (2000, 399). Paulos can be either a confessor beheaded on 25 July 309 in Caesarea (S00164) or Paulos of Yamnia, a companion of Pamphilos, whose fate is uncertain (S01333). See also: E00391. As for Germanos, she agrees with the identification suggested by Piccirillo.
The invocation is on behalf of the circus faction of the Blues, and only after them the name of the actual supplicant, a certain lector Papion, is mentioned. We can compare it with similar invocations: E00790 (Ephesos), E00844 (a village near Kibyra in southwest Asia Minor).
For another invocation of a saint, written on a roof tile in Umm er-Rasas, see E02570.
Inscription 2 commemorates a dedication made to a saint whose name begins with the letter sigma. This might be *Stephen the First Martyr to whom a church was dedicated in Umm er-Rasas (E02131). Another possibility is that the saint was *Sergios, whose cult was widely spread in the region. In Umm er-Rasas a number of people bore the name of this saint.
Dating: the inscriptions probably date to the late 6th or 7th c., as the mosaic panel with the building inscription for the church was dated to 578 or 593. Based on the study of ceramic finds, the excavators established that the church was abandoned in the 9th or 10th, but it is possible that the structure lost its religious character already in the mid-8th c.
Piccirillo, M., "The ecclesiastical complex of Saint Paul at Umm ar-Raṣāṣ - Kastron Mefaa", Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 46 (2002), 545-549.
Piccirillo, M., "La chiesa di San Paolo a Umm al-Rasas - Kastron Mefaa", Liber Annuus 47 (1997), 389-390, no. 3.
Di Segni, L., "A Chapel of St. Paul at Caesarea Maritima? The Inscriptions", Liber Annuus 50 (2000), 399.
Michel, A., Les églises d'époque byzantine et umayyade de Jordanie (provinces d'Arabie et de Palestine), Ve-VIIIe siècle: typologie architecturale et aménagements liturgiques (avec catalogue des monuments; préface de Noël Duval; premessa di Michele Piccirillo) (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), 401 (for the inscription); 397-401, no. 145 (for a description of the church).
Roueché, C., "Spectacles in Late Antiquity: some observations", Antiquité tardive: revue internationale d’histoire et d’archéologie 15 (2007), 62-64.
Bulletin épigraphique (1997), 580.
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 914.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 47 2083-2084; 52, 1724.